Impacts to marine parks

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The proposed reclamation area for the third runway is situated less than 1km from  Sha Chau and Lung Kwu Chau Marine Park which was set up with the intent to provide a safe environment for Hong Kong’s dolphins. Asides from the runway being already dangerously close to the marine park, construction vessels and sand nets will be situated even closer. The affected waters will be larger than the proposed 650ha. which also means that there will be no buffer zone around the marine park, thus seriously decreasing the effectiveness of its original intent.

Asides from affecting the current marine park, the third runway construction also conflicts with the Brothers Island marine park which is to be established in 2016 when the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge is completed. The Brothers Island marine park will become completely obsolete as dolphins cannot enter to the area past the third runway construction disturbance.

The compensatory marine parks proposed by the EIA report to be effected in 2023 when the third runway will be useless as there will be no more dolphins to protect. Areas of which the proposed marine park covers are not necessarily key ares of dolphin activity. If the government was really to be concerned with dolphin conservation they would not let the proposed are of the third runway be reclaimed.

The commencement of third runway reclamation (2016-2023) overlaps with the completion of HZMB works in 2016, and dolphins will have no time to recover their usage of the waters of the BMP during the seven years of obstruction as their passage to this marine park will be significantly narrowed

  • The project failed to acknowledge the fact that the on-going HZMB works have been seriously affecting the dolphins’ access to NEL waters, which will last until 2016, while the Highways Department and AFCD are aiming for a recovery of dolphin usage of the BMP after 2016 when the HZMB works are completed.
  • Such recovery is unlikely to happen if the 3RS project is allowed to proceed, and this temporal cumulative impact has been largely ignored.

In light of the significant impacts of the HKBCF reclamation project on the dolphins’ usage of the nearby Brothers Islands, the EIA report has seriously underestimated the impacts of the 3RS reclamation (four times the size of HKBCF) on the nearby SCLKCMP, which is only 900 metres away from the 3RS footprint, and much closer to the temporary work area during the construction phase

  • The significant impacts of the 3RS project on the nearby SCLKCMP could be the huge amount of habitat loss, resulting in changes in prey resource distribution and biomass, increasing amount of construction vessels moving frequently near the marine park boundary, and high volume of anchored vessels that will obstruct dolphin movement near the marine park.
  • All these potential impacts should be properly assessed with reference to the impacts of the HKBCF reclamation on dolphin usage of the waters of the Brothers Islands in order to satisfy the TM requirement.

The vessel traffic diversion from the Sky Pier to the north of Lung Kwu Chau can seriously affect the long-term functionality of the SCLKCMP as it will bring more HSF traffic closer to the northern boundary of the marine park, which has proven to be critical dolphin habitat in North Lantau waters in the past decade

  • Even though speed limits may be enforced, the increased volume of HSF traffic and the increased associated noise can affect this critical habitat around Lung Kwu Chau.
  • It is apparent that there will be some residual impacts on the SCLKCMP as a result of the vessel traffic diversion after implementing the proposed mitigation measures, which have not been properly assessed.